Have you heard about Shell’s 2-for-1’ deal from our governments?

We just released a new investigative report, Selling Hot Air, which revealed that Shell made over $200 million selling carbon credits for reductions that never happened. All while lobbying against carbon emission cap regulations for the fossil fuel industry. Talk about multi-tasking!

It all started in 2008, when Shell launched the ‘Quest’ carbon capture and storage (CCS) project. It was the first, and remains the only, CCS project in the oil sands and was touted by the Alberta government as a solution to oil sands pollution. 

The project was based on carbon credits which represent one tonne of CO2 emissions that have been reduced or removed from the atmosphere. These are then sold or traded to fulfill corporate or political sustainability goals, meet climate targets, or demonstrate climate leadership. Unfortunately, in this case, they were just another false pretense for delaying real climate action

© Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace. Aerial view of seismic lines and a tar sands mine in the Boreal forest north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, 2009. 

Our investigation revealed that Shell lobbied for, and received a ‘2-for-1’ deal during 2008 negotiations with the Government of Alberta to help subsidize this CCS project. 

The Government of Alberta allowed Shell to claim two tonnes of emissions credits for every tonne it buried underground. This meant they could, in effect, sell each tonne twice, which means half of the total emissions credits sold were for reductions that never happened,” explained Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada’s Senior Climate & Energy Strategist. 

By the end of 2022, Quest CCS had diverted 5.7 million tonnes of emissions, but thanks to this deal, the Government of Alberta cashed Shell out twice, and effectively paid them for capturing 11.4 million tonnes of carbon. All while increasing their fossil fuel production.

And here’s the kicker: since 2008, Shell has received $777 million in direct subsidies from the provincial and federal government, meaning Canadian taxpayers have subsidized 93% of the costs for this CCS project. The deal came to a close in 2022, but the damage has been done. We’ve all been swindled.

“The federal government is currently drafting a regulation to cap greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil and gas sector. We exposed the costs of the Shell ‘2-for-1’ deal to ensure that there wouldn’t be similar loopholes in the new regulation, and we hope our supporters will support the proposed GHG cap,” stresses Stewart. 

We’re asking oil companies and governments to be accountable, phase out fossil fuel production, and instead support communities to transition to renewable energy. For the sake of our youth, future generations and the planet, we must build an economy based on efficient, fair and clean renewable energy.